Looking for information about the elementary schools' grade reconfiguration? Look no further!

Refresher: the school board voted to change the grade configuration of our two elementary schools (Liberty Elementary and Independence Elementary) from two K-5 schools, to Liberty being an early childhood - 2nd grade school and Independence being a 3rd grade - 5th grade school.  The new configuration will be in place for the 17-18 school year. 
Additional questions not covered in this document can be sent to Superintendent Westerberg at s.westerberg@biglakeschools.org or Mrs. Gordy c.gordy@biglakeschools.org at Liberty or Mr. Kern d.kern@biglakeschools.org at Independence. Planning meetings are held regularly so new information will be posted as it becomes available. 

Important Information & Frequently Asked Questions:

Q1. When will the moving process begin? 
The initial stage of the move will begin the week of June 12. 

 Q2. When will the move be completed? 
The goal is for the move to be completed by August 7. 

Q3. Will the last day of school for students in grades K-5 be impacted?
Pending approval by the school board at the March 22 school board meeting, students in grades K-5 will end their school year on Tuesday, June 6. This is 1 ½ days sooner than students in grades 6-12. The additional preparation time will be used by teachers and staff to dismantle their rooms and pack classroom materials for the move.

Q4. Will the starting times and ending times be different starting next year?
To accommodate the changes in transportation schedules, Liberty students will begin 15 minutes sooner than students at Independence.  Liberty students will also be dismissed 15 minutes sooner at the end of the day.  

Q5. Will this change eliminate the boundaries that presently exist between Independence and Liberty?
Yes.  No boundaries will be needed. 

Q6. How will the change impact summer school at Independence and Liberty?
Due to the moving taking place this summer, summer school will be located at the middle school. 

Q7. Will the change impact the summer lunch program?
The summer lunch program will be relocated to the middle school for this summer.

Q8. How will the change impact Kid's Club during the summer?
Kids Club for this summer will continue to operate in the same configuration as it is currently operating (Pre K - grade 5 at Liberty and K - grade 9 at Independence).  

Q9. How will this move impact Community Education and Kid's Club activities during the school year?
We will make the move during the last week of August 2017 to align Kid’s Club in the same grade configuration at each building as the school will be starting next fall. 

Q10. Will special education students remain with their grade level peers?
With very few exceptions, they will remain with their grade level peers.    

Q11. How will this change effect busing including pick up and drop off times, bus stop locations, and route length?
With eliminating the boundaries, changes to some bus routes will occur which will result in different pick up and drop off times, bus stop locations, and route length. This information will be finalized and communicated to families in August by Vision Transportation.

Q12. Will there continue to be a shuttle between both elementary schools at the end of the day? 
At this time, a final decision on a shuttle has not been determined.  With Kid’s Club being located in both buildings, this eliminates the need for a shuttle for that purpose. 

Q13.  How will the additional bus congestion be handled at each school?
(UPDATED MARCH 6) At a planning meeting on March 2, it was decided that all buses would drop K-2 students at Liberty and then proceed to Independence to drop off grades 3-5.  This will be less confusing and safer for students in grades 3-5, as all students will remain on the same bus and not move to a shuttle and be taken to Independence.

Q14. Will reconfiguring the schools result in a cost to the district?
There will be some one-time costs associated with the physical move.  The moving of supplies and equipment will be done by existing school staff and hiring a few additional temporary positions during the move.  The estimated cost of making the move is $15,000.

Q15. One of the concerns from the survey last spring was not having older students mentoring younger students because of this change. How will this concern be addressed?
When possible, older students in each school will still be used to mentor younger students.

Q16. How will music events, math nights, parent/teacher conferences, etc. be scheduled to allow parens with students in both buildings to attend?
Special events in each school will be scheduled to not conflict.

Q17. What will be done to address the concern about transitions to a different building? 
Events will be scheduled for students to tour the new building and become familiar with the teachers

Q18. If a family has a student in each building will there be different buses for each? (Added on March 6)
No.  The same bus will pick up all elementary students.  Students in K-2 will be dropped off at Liberty first before dropping off 3-5 students at Independence.

 Q19. Will the construction on Eagle Lake Road impact transportation next fall? (Added on March 6)

 No, the reconstruction of Eagle Lake Road is scheduled to begin in early April with a planned completion date in late June.

  Q20. Will the reconfiguration result in larger class sizes? (Added May 16)
The average class size this year:

 K -       21

1st -     21

2nd -    23

3rd -     25

4th -     26.5

5th -     26.5

Advancing students one grade for next year and projecting the number of kindergartners the classes next year are expected to be:

 K -       20-22 (a projection)

1st -     23

2nd -    23

3rd -     25

4th -     27

5th -     27

All of these fit within the board approved class size ranges established by the school board several years ago.  

 Q21. Will reconfiguring create additional costs to the district? (Added May 16) 
The estimated cost of the actual move this summer is $15,000.  However, the ability to balance class sizes allows the district to reduce three positions and still have class sizes very close to this year.  The savings to the district will be $150,000 to $175,000.

  Q22.  Will there be a shuttle bus between buildings for Kids Club? (Added June 1) 
The district is not presently planning to have a shuttle bus between the elementary buildings.  At this point, the district has received few requests for a shuttle bus and the parent survey from last year didn't indicate much need for this service. 

 Q23. Why will Kids Club be held at Liberty for students in grades K-2 and at Independence for those in grades 3-5? (Added June 1) 
As we began visioning for the two age specific buildings, the Kids Club staff began visioning for how to specialize their services as well. It quickly became clear that the best option for children was to also be age specific.  Liberty Kids Club will offer room design, playground equipment, and activities that specifically honor the young child.  The same will be true for Independence Elementary only there the focus will be on the older elementary child.

Q24. Will the start and end times in each building change starting this fall? (Added June 1) 
As we continue to prepare and plan for the reconfiguration of our elementary schools for the 2017-2018 school year, keeping families informed is important to us.  As such, we wanted to communicate a change in start and end times for next school year.  Independence, which will be the 3-5 grade building, will have adjusted start and end times for next year.  Currently, just like Liberty, Independence student hours are 8:45-3:30.  Beginning next year, Independence student hours will be 8:55-3:40.  There will be no change to the Liberty schedule.  The change in the Independence start and end time will allow for parents and buses to drop off students at Liberty and still make it to Independence in time for an 8:55 start, and the 3:55 dismissal.